Nigeria: Catalogue of failed promises on power

Living without electricity

Living without electricity

“Promises, like pie-crusts, are made to be broken.” Jonathan Swift, 16767-1745

11 January 2015, Lagos – For those Nigerians who have not abandoned the truth about this failed project called the Transformation Agenda, below is the catalogue of failed promises made by the Jonathan administration, on power generation, since 2011 till date. Power we know moves economies.

“F.G plans electricity load study”, PUNCH, August 11, 2011, p. 24. The story reported the former Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji to have said that “the government had the capacity to generate 6,000 megawatts, but was currently generating 3000MW. “Also the Federal Government has said it is determined to improve power supply by taking the increasing power generation from the current 3000MW to 7200MW by December this year [2011].

In the same report by PUNCH, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Mr Sheik Goni, …”added that eager to deal with the issue, the government had set a target of increasing power generation to 40,000MW by the year 2020.” Goni was not through with promises on behalf of the government. He also said: “plans have been put in place to raise this capacity to 7220MW by the end of 2011 and 14,018MW by the last quarter of 2013”. That was a year and one month ago.“Power Ministry Targets 5,000MW by December”, THISDAY, August 14, 2011, p. 1.

This was reported as a telephone conversation with Professor Bart Nnaji, the same Minister who only three days before promised 6000MW while Goni vowed it would be 7200MW by the same December. Were the two working for the same government? “Jonathan: Uninterrupted power supply possible before 2015”. NATION, August 17, 2011 p. 11. According to the paper, “He [Jonathan] said yesterday that his administration remains committed to the attainment of uninterrupted power supply in the country before the end of his tenure in 2015”.

That tenure expires on May 29, 2015; five months from now.“Nigeria needs $100bn investment in power sector”, DAILY TRUST, p. 25.

Here again, it was Professor Nnaji, who disclosed this in a paper titled” “Nigeria: A Miracle Waiting To Happen”. According to him, “Nigeria needs $100 billion investment to achieve 40,000MW in the year 2020. That is six years from now.This was followed by “Show the light, and the people will find the way”, by Bart Nnaji. NATION, December 1, 2011, p. 22.

According to him, “The Road Map [launched by Jonathan] provides ways and means to make Nigeria achieve 40,000MW within one decade, so that our beloved nation could become one of the world’s 20 largest economies by 2020”. On December 31, 2011, neither the 7000MW nor the 5000MW milestone had been reached. Having failed woefully to deliver on the promises made for 2011, Jonathan and his team marched into 2012 to make more promises and to shift one goal post.“Nnaji’s curious games with power sector reforms”, was the title of a PUNCH Editorial, dated March 5, 2012, p. 18.

In the editorial, the paper reminded readers that the Road Map had assured Nigerians of the “targeted increase in actual generation capacity to 7000MW by December 2011. PUNCH however confirmed that even in March 2012, “all the entire nation has today (as generation capacity) is 4200MW”. Trust Professor Nnaji, the perfect Minister for a nation of scatter-brains, on June 12, 2012, in a report by PUNCH, there was a report titled, “Electricity generation to hit 5,500MW this year’. He announced the figure at a lecture at the Institute for Security Studies in Abuja.

Sounding triumphant instead of repentant, he told his audience that “there will be a remarkable improvement in power supply across the nation”. Deliberately, he made no mention of the promise of 7000MW by December 2011. Two months after Nnaji spoke, we read: “Power supply peaks at 4237MW” in NATION, August 8, 2012. According to the report, “the Minister broke the cheery news to the Ministry’s directors yesterday”.

No doubt he called the President first. A greater clown show could not have been imagined. A Minister promises 7000MW the previous December; and 5,500MW for 2012, he delivers 4237MW in August and receives a pat on the back. What then is our definition for failure?September 14, 2012 brought another “cheery” bit of news in the form of a report by PUNCH.

“Five power plants shut over technical hitches”, said the paper on page 21. Power supply dropped to 3938MW. October 11, 2012, President Jonathan in his 2013 Budget Speech announced as follows: “The Power Sector Reform [to reach 14000MW by December 2013] is on course. Of recent, our efforts have paid off..”. We were, then, only fourteen months from the promised 14,000MW and we could not hold power supply steady at 4000MW and yet the President of Nigeria said the programme “is on course”. Will somebody define flight from reality please?

November 3, 2012 brought another promise from the “Promise Mill”. It came from the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power – “Fed Govt Targets 5000mega watts by December” in the NATION, page 5. Notice another 500MW had been peeled off from what Nnaji announced in June and 2000MW from what was promised in 2011. Some will call that uncontrolled regression. But, more important, these people don’t know or care that we remember what they told us last week, month or year. They would like us to suffer from collective amnesia – simply because they do.

Then something curious occurred. The Guardian, on December 9, 2012, in a story which started on the front page, and continued to page two, wrote about General Electric, GE, the US-based global giant, signing a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, to provide 10,000MW of incremental capacity – without fixing a date for the delivery.

But, one Mr Lazarus Angbazo, President/CEO of GE Nigeria, suddenly shifted the goal post for the delivery of the 40,000MW which President Jonathan had promised to achieve within a decade — a decade is ten years for those who might not know. In the Guardian report, “The GE President recalled that the power need of the country in the next 10 to 20 years, as articulated by the government is 40,000MW”. That is a lie. The Road Map said a decade, ten years – not ten to twenty years. On December 27, 2012, the NATION’s report, on page 11, was titled: “Nigeria’s power generation to exceed 7,000MW next year [2013]. Thus, 2012 ended on the same note as 2011 – broken promises. Neither the 5500MW nor 5000MW was delivered. We started 2013 with a promise of 7000MW by December of that year.

Forgive me for not taking you through the lengthy process of proving, once again, that 2013 followed the same pattern as those of 2011 and 2012 – promises were made to be broken. Still, it is necessary to substantiate the charge. For some inexplicable reason, these people cannot stop making promises which they cannot or would not be able to fulfill. The promises came fast and bigger in 2014. This time, it was the Minister of State for Power, Mrs Zainab Kuchi who got the ball rolling.

In a PUNCH, January 10, 2013 report, titled: “FG Targets 10,000MW of electricity by December”, she first of all admitted that the “peak quantity generated in December 2012 was 4,517MW”. The report also reminded us that Obasanjo/Imoke promised Nigerians 10,000MW by 2007 – and failed miserably. Indeed, Obasanjo established the dishonourable practice of promising the people, squandering their funds and at the end, have nothing to show. The figures which Mrs Kuchi used to support her promise were at best inadvertently misleading or at best deliberately fraudulent.

Yet she was talking to a committee of Nigerians presumed to have brains. She was not alone in foisting falsehood on the nation as promise. The Minister of State for Finance, Dr Yerima Ngama, in another report on January 29, 2013, announced that “FG targets 1,000MW from 10 new plants”. It was not to be. History will record that 2013 ended with the nation still being supplied less than 5000MW of power. So what happened in 2014? Professor Nebo, who had replaced Professor Nnaji, quickly got into the promise game. In July 2014, he promised Nigerians 6000MW of power supply by December 2014. In November he reduced the figure to the usual 5000MW.

In the end, on December 28, 2014, the NATION, on page 5, informed us that “Power supply rises to 3,666.76MW”. And what was Professor Nebo’s response to another failed promise? Of course, you know. He had just announced another 7,000MW target for next year. Yet, between Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, Nigeria had spent $156 billion; more than Britain spent to add 30,000MW. Where did the money go? Don’t most Nigerians care anymore?

Somebody somewhere once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result”. Is it not possible to also define insanity as employing the same set of people for sixteen years, failing each and every year and still wanting to continue with them? How on earth will Nigeria ever be great if we cannot add just 4000MW, to our power supply in sixteen years? In all these, somebody must have lost their marbles. The question is: who?
*Dr. Dele Sobowale is a seasoned columnist with the Vanguard

About the Author