Egbara Emmanuel Ikaba.
“The real potential of electricity lies not in providing social amenities but in stimulating long-term economic”
Electricity was introduced to Lagos, Nigeria in 1896. In Nigeria, nay the African continent, the importance of power supply to the development of the society cannot be overrated.
To be precise, power is one of the basic needs of any modern man or society both at the domestic and industrial levels.
Because of the importance of power or electricity, several attempts have been made to bring its supply to a dependable level in Nigeria: From the establishment of Nigeria Electricity Undertaking under the Public Works Department in 1946 through the libralization of the sector in 1950 to the merger of Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), National Electricity Supply Company (NESCO) and Niger Dams Authority (NDA) to form a consolidated National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, in April 1972, all efforts have failed leading to epileptic power supply.
Even the Power sector reform under which former President Obasanjo signed the Power Sector Reform bill into law did not yield output commensurate to the tremendous resources invested in it due to alleged corrupt practices.
Late President Musa Yar’Adua declared a state of emergency in the power sector, but his efforts were cut short by his demise.
It was during former President Goodluck Jonathan’s time that Nigerians celebrated improvement of power supply to about four thousand megawatts, but this did not last for long.
It nose-dived on President Buhari’s assumption of office in 2015. However, after 33 months on the saddle, reports from the Advisory Power Team of Vice President Yemi Osibanjo had it that power supply hit 5,156 megawatts on 8th December, 2017.
This figure according to the same source dropped to 5,077 megawatts on 14th December, 2017.
This is a far cry from the actual power need or demand of the 200 million Nigerian population which using the 2016 World Bank estimate of 126kw.h/person adds up to 98,500 megawatts. As things stand now, the level of power supply in Nigeria is not only very low, it is equally frustrating; forcing both foreign and locally-owned industries and factories to shut down, collapse or relocate to nearby countries.
This has turned Nigeria into a consumer-country and so a dumping ground for substandard goods from the four corners of the world.
Added to these are lack of employment opportunities for the youths of Nigeria and the annual waste of about N1.6 trillion naira to fuel over 60 million generators used in the country! From the foregoing, it suffices that the problem of power supply in Nigeria has taken the dimension of a perennial national catastrophe which is holding down the growth and development of an otherwise great country.
However, it is heartwarming that Cross River state, a bold and visionary experiment by senator Benedict Ayade has yielded results which have potentials of solving the intractable problem of power supply in the state, boosting commerce and industries, creating food security, providing unlimited employment opportunities for youths and abating environmental pollution.
We as Cross Riverians need to praise Governor Benedict Ayade for his courage and political will through which he has given visionary leadership to Cross River State.
Cross River citizens we need to get ready to fully utilize the many opportunities of the unfolding industrial revolution by identifying at least one area of need and developing the best solution to it so as to stand in the gap for the society in that particular need area.
With the enviable competence of Cross River engineers in sustaining the 23 megawatts plant in Calabar through effective operation and maintenence; the successful installation of another Power plant under Ayade’s prodding; and their readiness to achieve the targeted megawatts of power across various industrial clusters designed for different locations and various Small and Medium-scale Enterprises in Cross River state, one can be certain that the long awaited industrial revolution necessary to keep Nigeria on her feet as the Giant of Africa has kicked off in Cross River – an old state which has continued to prove that it holds great promises for both the Nigerian federation and the African continent.
It is hoped that other Governors in Nigeria will once more copy this visionary and creative effort of the path-finding Governor , Senator Benedict Ayade .
The Federal Ministry of Power is equally enjoined to deploy a fraction of the great funds it sinks in the ailing and irredeemable conventional power system to the development of alternative routes to power like the one in Calabar the Cross River State Capital.
All over the world, power mix is the best approach to power problem as it sheds loads off the existing weak power system. Cross River state is succeeding ; and Nigeria can succeed on it too.