08 March 2015, Lagos – Two years ago or thereabout, President Goodluck Jonathan told Nigerians to be prepared to crown him the most popular President of the country. This was on the strength of a comment by one of the participants at a media chat that any President who solved the problem of electricity in Nigeria would go down as the most popular President in its history.
Obviously, the President’s confidence in that riposte could not have been misplaced. It must have flowed from these critical elements – the desire in his heart, the ideas in his head, the plan on the drawing board and the steps he was already taking to create that reality. However, what the President appeared not to have envisaged or contemplated, was the milieu where he is operating – the fact that this is Nigeria, where the unimaginable happens.
So, he sets out with uncommon gusto to achieve the goal. Of course, two years earlier, he had set the ball rolling with the inauguration of the Roadmap to Power, a template detailing each step to be taken in the direction of providing uninterrupted power to the country. It was a work-plan that seemed well cut out for him and those he relied upon to do the job. Pronto, he went about doing the needful – getting the right personnel, providing the right funding, making the right contacts, domestic and international and generally creating the fertile ground for all stakeholders to be at their best, doing their utmost in bringing the vision to fruition.
The cumulative result four years on, appears quite amazing. For the first time in the history of the country, the generation output is at all-time high. From a 50-year production benchmark of 2,800megawatts, the capacity has hit well above 7,000megawatts and still counting, in just four years. This came about as a result of a number of far-reaching activities in the sector – the actual completion and commissioning of most of the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPPs) and the Independent Power Plants (IPPs), a well-articulated and robust gas production and distribution initiative to power the thermal stations and the a vigorous private sector participation engendered by a deliberate and consistent government policy.
Aside boosting the generation capacity, the President’s support for the transmission and distribution value chain of the industry, has also been quite remarkable. The result is that today, the transmission lines to evacuate generated power has been strengthened from just 270kilometres to well over 650kilometres, while tripling the number of injection sub-stations across the country. The strengthening and upgrading of critical infrastructure as a result of the huge investment induced by the President has also led to a drastic reduction of the technical losses witnessed in the transmission and distribution of power.
In the distribution chain, the President has also provided the needed support for the distribution companies to rev up their capacity in distributing transmitted power. Tens of thousands of transformers were acquired and distributed to them. Most recently, he approved the purchase of one million metres for distribution to consumers to reduce the hues and cries associated with inadequate metering in the distribution value chain. Of course, the seamless completion of the privatisation of government stakes in the generation (Gencos) and distribution (Discos) remains.