President Goodluck Jonathan’s Senior Special Adviser on Public Affairs, Dr. Doyin Okupe, has been trying to explain away the hefty drop in power supply throughout the country since February this year. This, he says, is due to a reduction in power generation caused by “massive sabotage” of gas pipelines across the country. As of today, generation has declined from 4, 000 megawatts achieved in 2011 to just 3, 000MWs.
Speaking on Wednesday in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, Okupe revealed that the nation had an installed generation capacity of 7, 000mws. But between 1960 when Nigeria became a sovereign state and 2011, actual generation rose by only a half from 2, 000MWs to 4, 000MWs. Meaning, it took a lifetime to achieve that modest growth. Ironically, it took just three years to bring that crashing down to 3, 000MWs. And the government expects Nigerians to just accept its explanation that saboteurs are responsible!
The government’s major headache which it does not seem to know is that it has peddled this sabotage excuse for virtually all its failings so far. Last February when long fuel queues returned to the nation’s cities, including Lagos and Abuja, after a year of stability, the government’s oil monopoly, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), blamed it on the major oil marketers that were “hoarding refined petrol”. But the irony was that not even its so-called mega stations were selling the commodity in spite of its assertion that it had enough petrol in stock. It turned out that the NNPC lied, as usual; the truth was that the government failed to release import allocations, done on a quarterly basis, on time.
Just as in the fuel shortage case, Okupe’s gas pipeline saboteurs have no faces. Only that they are powerful enough to have caused damaging “gas supply constraints to the power plants”. And as if it is any comfort to hurting Nigerians, the government has added pipeline vandals to its lengthening list of domestic terrorists and, according to Okupe, the military has been ordered to stay on their trail.
Meanwhile, a “very worried President Jonathan” has ordered immediate “release of funds” to repair the damaged gas pipelines in addition to 4, 000 kilometres of new pipelines. The government believes that this and the completion of 10 independent power plants it inherited would be enough to guarantee 16 to 18 hours of power in the “next six weeks”. “Very soon, Nigerians will enjoy between 16 and 18 hours daily of uninterrupted power supply.” Recall that on November 12, 2012, President Jonathan, while on a state visit to Pakistan, told Nigerians in the city of Islamabad that Nigeria would have 24-hour power supply by June, 2013.
“We have (power) projects that are going on, so before the end of the second quarter, that is almost middle of next year, most of these projects would have been commissioned and we will be evacuating and that time, quite a number of cities will begin to have 24-hour of light. When we get to that point, you will see that small scale enterprises will begin to make returns and that is the way we can create jobs”, he pledged. That deadline was missed by almost a year. There have been several other missed timelines ever since. Enough of the excuses and promises. Nigerians want “mugani akasa”, Hausa for “seeing is believing”.