The Nigerian Labor Congress has described Nigeria’s power sector as a failure, noting that both the Federal Government and operators have failed to meet the expectations of electricity consumers across the country.
But the Federal Government opposed the workers’ position, arguing that the energy sector was now in good health despite the challenges facing the industry.
NLC vice president, who also acts as general secretary of the National Union of Electric Employees, Joe Ajaero, said the amount of electricity produced in the sector has not increased since the sector was privatized in November 2013.
He told our correspondent on Friday that the stagnation in power generation had continued despite persistent increases in consumer demand for electricity.
Asked to talk about the performance of the sector in 2022, Ajaero said: “If you are looking at the power sector, since you asked me to use a word to qualify it, the power sector is a failed sector. It’s a bankrupt sector, and that means it’s going down, down, down.
“This is because the megawatts produced in this sector have remained constant, while the demand for it increases day by day. If Nigeria had some conscious master plan, it would have ensured that energy production grows to meet demand.
“For example, if power demand is growing by 10 percent, we should be able to track that, perhaps increasing our generating capacity by 10 percent through building a power plant that could give us, say, 500MW, for control the increase in demand.
Nigeria’s power generation has continued to hover around 3500MW and 4500MW for several years. Figures obtained from the Federal Ministry of Energy on Friday, for example, showed that electricity generation on the national grid at 6 a.m. that day was 4,456.5 MW.
Ajaero noted that Nigeria was a country struggling with energy poverty, adding that “if (Nigeria) is fighting energy poverty and is not making efforts to control generation, transmission and distribution capacities, then the situation keeps getting worse.”
He added: “If you have 4,000 MW that 12 million consumers are connected to, and you still have the same 4,000 MW that 20 million people use, you can see the sector is going down. And it still didn’t increase it until 40 million people are now using it. So you can see that it is continually failing.
“Any country that is serious about the electricity sector will make sure that it has projects in the short, medium and long term, and that in any given year, certain plants or generation capacities will be incorporated into the grid.
“As we wind out of 2022, I am not aware of any power plant that has added capacity to the grid, and it takes three to four years to complete a power plant. I have not been informed of any power plants in Nigeria opening next year to add another 1,000MW to the grid.
“The same for two and three years; So it’s not magic, and you can’t say there is power and there will be power if you don’t work on it consciously.
But the Federal Government opposed the NLC official’s position, arguing that the sector was now healthy and strong enough to attract investment.
When contacted for the reaction of the Federal Ministry of Energy, the press assistant to the Minister of Energy, Sanusi Isa, provided our correspondent with a December 2022 document prepared by the Minister of Energy, Abubakar Aliyu, on the performance of the sector under the current administration.
However, in the document, the minister stated that although the challenge in the power sector was too big for the federal government to handle, the industry was now in good health.