Two weeks after the resignation of Prof. Bart Nnaji as Minister of Power and the subsequent promise by the Federal Government to sustain the improvement in electricity supply achieved during his tenure, consumers in most cities have again started to experience frequent blackouts. This is coming on the heels of government’s assurance to Nigerians of uninterrupted power supply as from year end.
THISDAY checks showed that consumers, who were getting used to a marked improvement in power supply in their homes and offices, have in the last one week started complaining about the return to old order.
A survey of households in Lagos, Abuja, Abeokuta, Kano and Port Harcourt, among other cities, showed that electricity supply was no longer reliable as it was about three weeks ago.
For example, many parts of Lagos have been experiencing epileptic power supply for the last one week, with some sections of the city cut off completely from electricity since Friday.
In Kaduna metropolis, for instance, some areas that used to have 18 hours of power supply are now down to eight hours or less.
A resident of the state told THISDAY that the recent review of tariffs has aggravated the plight of the residents of the city.
“With 18 hours of light, I used to pay N5,000 monthly and the money will be carried over to the next month. But since the increase in electricity tariffs, I have been paying almost N11,000, without any carry over to the next month.
The situation was also the same in some parts of Port Harcourt most of last week. “For almost one year, we did not have light until the past three months when we started having light up to four hours. But this time, it is two hours for the past one week,” said Ndubuisi, a resident in Port Harcourt.
Another resident in Enugu State and auto parts dealer, Nnaemeka, also told THISDAY that electricity supply, which had improved in the state capital, has been epileptic for the past few days.
He, however, stated that the residents of the city had attributed the worsening supply of electricity in the state to the heavy rains, which have been falling in the area in the last couple of days.
Kano State has also witnessed a significant drop in electricity supply in recent days. A civil engineer, Mohammed Bello, while lamenting the return of epileptic electricity supply, wondered why PHCN had not even issued a statement explaining why output had dropped.
“If it is gas, they should let us know, if it is system failure, they should let us know. They owe us some kind of explanation,” he said.
A source with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), who spoke to THISDAY, blamed the situation on damaged distribution and transmission facilities, which have not been fully repaired.
It was also gathered that the drop in electricity supply was occasioned by the loss of about 1,100 Megawatts of electricity from the national grid.
This development, it was learnt, has fuelled speculation that the workers of the successor companies of PHCN, who have been celebrating Nnaji’s exit, have resorted to their business-as-usual work ethic.
THISDAY gathered that power supply, which peaked at 4,321.3MW when Nnaji resigned as minister on August 28, and remained at the same level up until August 31, has continued to dwindle daily, with the system witnessing a partial collapse on September 7.
Shortly before the former minister resigned his appointment, the country achieved a new high in power generation of 4,307.7MW and an additional 170MW, which served as spinning reserve, bringing the total quantum of electricity generated to 4,477.7MW.
This new peak exceeded the record level of 4,237MW achieved on August 6 by 240.7MW.
Before Nnaji was appointed minister in 2011, the first attempt by the country to generate 3,800MW in August 2010 led to the collapse of the system within a few minutes due to the weak transmission infrastructure.
However, it was learnt that the power situation worsened at the weekend as supply dropped to 3,224.3MW on Saturday, after peaking at 4,077MW earlier in the day.
Some of the power stations that were the worst affected by the drop in supply include the Geregu Power Station in Kogi State, which was generating an average of 210MW per day, but dropped to 10MW at the weekend. The drop in power output at Geregu was blamed on shortage in gas supply.
Similarly, the Okpai Power Plant in Delta State, which was generating 466MW per day but has also dropped to 276MW, while Sapele dropped from 180MW to zero.
The Omotosho Power Station in Okitipupa Local Government Area of Ondo State, which is under the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP), also witnessed a drop in generation from 230MW to 167MW. While electricity generated from the Egbin Power Station in Lagos, the biggest power station in the country, dropped from 900MW to 453MW.
A source, however, blamed the drop in output from Egbin to lack of gas, as the turbines are ready to generate about 800MW, subject to the availability of gas.
Power generation from Kainji Power Station also declined to 187MW from 193MW, while Jebba, which was generating 402MW, dropped to 385MW.
Afam IV Power Station in Rivers State has also witnessed a drop in performance with generation falling to 315MW after peaking at 458MW.
With the fall in supply, the highest voltage recorded at the weekend was 347KV at the Benin Transmission Station, while the lowest was 290KV recorded at the Kano Transmission Station.
Sources attributed the drop in output from several of the power stations to the poor attitude to work by PHCN workers and lack of effective supervision.
A power ministry source confirmed this, saying when the former minister was in office he kept the CEOs of all the power companies and their executive directors on their toes.
“You know the ministry had signed service level agreements with all the CEOs and the minister had an effective monitoring mechanism to ensure that output was raised and sustained.
“But without anyone breathing down their necks, most of them are beginning to relax; that may be the reason we are beginning to experience epileptic power supply again. In addition, the dry season is not yet upon us yet, so we should be edging up to 5,000MW by now, not retrogressing,” he explained.
Also, the dwindling performance in power generation and distribution has been blamed on the lack of commitment by government, as nobody appears to be in-charge in the absence of a power minister.
Nnaji, during his tenure, was able to whip workers in the sector in line and was the only known minister to have fired top officials of PHCN for non-performance and failure to meet their targets under the service level agreements.
Although President Goodluck Jonathan had directed Minister of State for Power, Mr. Darius Ishaku, to take charge of the ministry after Nnaji’s resignation, sources said Ishaku lacks the hands-on experience required to effectively tackle the rot and pervasive incompetence in the system.
Jonathan, while reconstituting two committees on the power sector, last Wednesday, had pledged to sustain the stable power supply in the country, even after the rains.
The two committees, whose reconstitution was triggered by Nnaji’s resignation, are the Presidential Action Committee on Power (PACP) and the Presidential Task Force on Power.
Jonathan, at a meeting with members of the reconstituted committees acknowledged that Nnaji’s resignation had stalled the meeting of the PACP.