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Experts dissect Tinubu’s scorecard on power sector… say it’s dynamic, impressive  

Experts dissect Tinubu’s scorecard on power sector… say it’s dynamic, impressive

 

By Yunus Yusuf

 

A review of the manifesto of the then candidate Bola Tinubu, reveals that when elected as President of Nigeria, his administration will evaluate and upgrade the country’s power sector governance and its regulatory structure; the latest document being the Electric Power Sector Reform Act (EPSRA) amendment bill.

Also, the power sector regulation reform as enumerated is to ensure that government processes and procedures improve efficiency and accountability for project management, design, procurement, construction, and remittances.

The agenda of the Tinubu administration, industry sources revealed, is aimed at ensuring that all Nigerian households and businesses are metered, using the National Mass Metering Program (NMMP) and the Meter Asset Provider Scheme (MAPS).

In a few hours, another phase of Nigeria’s democratic experiment will clock the first one year under the Tinubu administration, which took over power from Muhamadu Buhari’s on May 29, 2023.

Upon inauguration, the new regime had so much to contend with, based on the deficit associated with all sectors of the economy inherited from successive administration.

Name it: education, health, health, sports, agriculture, transportation, tourism, housing, rural development and energy, among several others yearning for not only immediate but urgent attention?

Though there has been a paucity of funds to critically address the highlighted, and especially, the energy sector which activity touches every family, the present administration once cried foul of the undercurrent activities during the yesteryears.

This apparently explains the essence of the present administration’s ploy to take the bull by the horn with the assurance of lighting every nook and crannies within the shortest period in the course of the Tinubu-led government.

Tinubu once told the people of his administration’s commitment to the energy regarded as one of the ailing sectors with the vow to unlock the obstacles that have bedevilled Nigeria from achieving stable electricity supply.

At the ground-breaking of Gwagwalada Independent Power Plant (GIPP) project in Abuja, the nation’s capital, promised to make available energy during his presidency just as pledged on assumption of office that affordable electricity will cut across homes and offices.

Though the country has been having migraine on the issue of power generation, transmission and distribution for decades, the Tinubu administration, however, expressed the determination to illuminate every zone in fulfilment of his assurances during the electioneering to make facilities more abundant to the people.

Unveiling his plan for the suffocating sector, the President said: “Electricity will become more accessible and affordable to businesses and homes alike…power generation should nearly double, and transmission and distribution networks improved…we will encourage states to develop local sources as well’’.

Likewise, Adebayo Adelabu, the Minister for Power, said in March that the government would increase electricity megawatts from 4,000 to 6,000 within the next three to six months to improve power supply.

He noted, ” 4,000 megawatts is not acceptable and we have plans to increase the megawatts to a minimum of 6,000 to 6,500 within the next three to six months.”

But as electricity consumers await the minister’s juicy package for the supply of uninterrupted power supply, he recalled that the best performance ever recorded was 2021 with 5,700 megawatts generation.

“And these 5,700 megawatts were also distributed. If we could achieve 5,700 at that time, I believe we still have infrastructure to generate between 6,000 and 6,500,” he said.

The minister explained that he had visited a number of generation companies and confirmed that they had the installed capacity to generate the 6,000 megawatts.

Contrary to opinion, Adelabu disclosed that he had received information about a couple of improvements in the sector, which Minister is not still acceptable until there is a quantum leap in terms of stable electricity supply.

According to him, a large percentage of the installed capacity is operational, but they are not available because of low or shortage in gas supply.

One of the major achievements of President Tinubu in the power sector is the approval of the gradual payments of power sector debts estimated at over N3.3 trillion owed power generating companies which will be paid via cash injections and promissory notes.

Similarly, about 1.3 billion dollars owed to gas companies will be paid via cash and future royalties as part of the measures to tackle incessant power outages in the country.

Already, the federal government has commenced payment of the cash part of the N1.3 trillion debt owed Gencos and concluded plans to settle the second part via promissory notes within a timeframe ranging from two to five years.

Added to this is the assent by the president, to the Electricity Act 2023, which was initially passed by the National Assembly in July 2022, replacing the Electricity and Power Sector Reform Act of 2005.

The law provides a framework to guide the post-privatisation phase of the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) as well as encourage private sector investments in the sector.

Another heartwarming record of the administration, according to observers, is the signing of the Presidential Power Initiative (PPI) agreement between Nigeria and Germany which is designed to ultimately add 12,000 megawatts of electricity to the national grid.

The significant agreement was signed by President Tinubu and the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the side-line of the United Nations Climate Conference (COP28) taking place at the Expo City in Dubai.

Presumably drumming optimistic support, stakeholders in the power sector added their expression to the Tinubu administration’s review as some experts urged the Federal Government to adopt a more holistic approach to the problems confronting the sector in the country.

To them, it was high time for the government to realise that its approach towards fixing the economy must be result-oriented, according to the views of those who spoke with the Business Intelligence (TBI  Africa ) in Lagos on the journey so far in the power sector.

While Yemi Oke, a Professor of Energy and Electricity Law, at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), described the amended Electricity Act as strategic, Chairman of the Customer Consultative Forum of Festac/Satellite Town, Dr Akinrolabu Olukayode, conversely urged the president to resuscitate the power sector as a catalyst for foreign investment to boost Nigeria’s currency value among the comity of nations.

Acknowledging the new development as a bold step, Oke explained that the amended law was germane following the need to put into operation legislation that would drive the power sector to its desired destination.

The professor maintained that even though technical and operational issues persist in the power sector, the strategic signing of the amended Electricity Bill and removal of subsidies in the power sector had set the nation on the right track.

On his part, Olukayode said that the path to effective administration for President Tinubu has been quite undulating, turbulent and filled with twists and uneasy navigation, describing the period as a pilot study for the president.

“It is a period long enough for him to redesign the administrative template, especially in the power sector sequel to the emerging trend which has culminated in an unsatisfactory performance evaluation report,” he said

Olukayode advised the president to henceforth be proactive in policy that would encourage local production to boost the Gross Domestic Product and the decentralisation of power generation through the states and granting of autonomy to investors to enhance local production and foreign investment.

Also, Adetayo Adegbemle, the Executive Director, Initiatives for Electricity Rights (PowerUp Nigeria), observed there are low-hanging issues like the appropriate pricing for electricity, metering and distribution network that are still making the power sector liquid to be able to attract the much needed investment.

Adegbemle said, “I had advised that the Siemens project be reviewed to wind down or close it out. It’s not a good deal for Nigeria from the inception.

“We should be witnessing more States taking up their decentralised roles in the power sector with the implementation of the Electricity Act 2023.’’

Dr Ayodele Oni, Partner at Bloomfield Law Practice, stressed the need to identify and focus on the critical development area because, as he put it, electricity is the backbone of the socio-economic development of any nation.

Oni said that it was a good way to improve to the standard of living of the people because it helps to stimulate other sectors like health, education, commerce, and industries.

He, therefore, suggested that attention should be focused on the provision of access to affordable and reliable electricity for both industry and domestic consumption to reduce the cost of production of goods and inflation.

“While some of the policies of the government in the last few months are expected to have long-term impacts, there could have been measures put in place alongside the policies to provide short-term comfort for the people to ameliorate the financial hardship currently being experienced.

“Also, it is envisaged that in enforcing economic reforms, the Administration will take implementation steps which are specifically tailored to suit the Nigerian economic backdrop for the overall improvements in all aspects of the Nigerian economy,’’ he said.

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