“Obasanjo came, he saw, he spent, he was conquered, Yar’Adua was not allowed by fate…Jonathan came, he simply continued…he was equally conquered, will Buhari make a marked significant improvement…we will find out in few years.” Onyedikachi Ndidi

One of the major failures of current times is how democratic systems are being made ineffective so that people with a ‘power of one vote’ are not able to hold elected representatives to account. How else can governments get away with making promises and not delivering?

Rather often governments instead of delivering on pro-people promises have harmed people’s interests even more, thereby allowing corporations to siphon away profits and resources. With democracy failing the people to hold governments to account, it is no surprise that non-performing governments often get re-elected!

For Nigeria, we are still celebrating the government of change–But I hope that they can deal with the “corporations that have siphoned away profits and resources.”–Many such corporations are those in the power and energy sector.

A few years ago I was part of a media team that visited Yenogoa, the Bayelsa state capital. The visit was part of a NEPAD assessment thing…with focus on infrastructural development, the state then was still run on a gas turbine, and at that point it was not even working.

Then, governor, Goodluck Jonathan promised that on our next visit, we wouldn't hear the sound of power generators. Well, never had that opportunity to go back, but almost ten years after very little has changed…

In contrast, if you were an adult in the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s Nigeria’s power and energy sector conundrum would certainly not give you any form of amusement.

Today a nation survives miserly on barely 1,327MegaWatt, after USD 38 billion expended/stolen in the last 16 years.

As at 22nd March 2015 Peak Generation was 1,936.50MW and Peak Demand forecast was 12,800 MW

The highest we have generated is a miserly 4,517.6 MW on December 23, 2012.

A nation that flares almost 1.2billion cubic feet of gas daily, which translates to some 7,000MW of efficient thermal power, but leadership shortsightedness hinged on corruption wont let it happen.

According to a  report–“…Most key power plants in the country, including those located at Utorogu, Chevron Oredo, Oben gas-fired power plants, were all shut down, while Ughelli and Chevron Escravos power plant were all isolated already, the ministry of power said.

Power output had dropped from a recent peak of 4,500MW on April 3, to 2,800 as of March 30.

The ministry said on the eastern axis, Shell Gas, Alakiri plants were shut down.

Other affected power plants include National Integrated Power Plants (NIPPs) – Egbin, Olorunshogo 1 & 11, Omotosho 1& 11, Geregu I & 11, Ihonvor and Sapele on the western axis and Alaoji on the eastern end.

Ask Google and it will tell you that the Nigerian Federal Government has earmarked $8 billion (N1.3 trillion) for the execution of the Nigerian Gas Master Plan with specific interest in meeting the gas-to-power demand in the country.

Google would tell you that outgoing vice-president Nnamadi Sambo said government had also embarked on an extensive programme for the upgrading of the nation's power transmission capacity.

''We are also implementing an extensive programme for the upgrading and expansion of our power transmission capacity. We plan that before the end of 2014, we can transmit up to 10,000mw and by 2016 to transmit up to 20,000mw,” Mr. Sambo said.

He said the total funding for the project is estimated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to cost about $3.7 billion.

''I am pleased to inform you that funding for these projects has already been arranged.

''$1.6 billion is coming from the sale proceeds of the NIPP/NDPHC ten new power plants, $500 million from the China-EXIM bank and the balance from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank and (from you) our local banks,” he said.

He told all these lies some two years ago—precisely in September 2013.

Sadly in May 2015, out-going Senate President David Mark had this to say while receiving the management of the Electricity Management Services Limited in Abuja.

“In spite of the high expectations and promises on account of the privatization of the power sector, Nigerians are yet to feel the positive impact of the sector.”

For those that have a short fuse memory we were treated to the House of Representative show of shame Power Probe of the Obasanjo years…for those that have forgotten, we have witnessed several name changes culminating in the current misnomer called Distribution Companies DISCOs, and Generating Companies GENCOs.

So much noise on the National Integrated Power Projects NIPP, so much on wind power, alternate energy—but very little to show, all because no one is held accountable.

Governments are not being held to account for promises they do not deliver upon. With the role of money and muscle power central in elections, delivering upon pro-people promises is not enough to get elected due to the changing nature of politics with increased role of those with money.

If Buhari must answer the Google question on Nigeria's electricity sector, he must leverage on one positive change—and that “CHANGE” is to “PUNISH” all those responsible for a “lightless Nigeria”.

Accountability is indeed critically important for making any development agenda work! If Google is to answer us positively, people entrusted with the sector must be held accountable—

Someone or people needs to start talking, explanations are needed as to why we do not have power, why we can hardly boost of 8 hours electricity for one month in a year, why the diesel consumption at the Presidential Villa has continually increased despite increased investment on power.

We need to hold people culpable for the criminal bills that consumers pay for electricity no consumed—We need to punish people over service charges for no service. People need to sue power companies for unregulated supply that cause power surge leading to loose of lives and property.

Until someone is held accountable, until people are punished and same time commended and rewarded for getting it right—If not we will continue to be involved in building transmission stations, divesting, privatizing, and yet even Google wont be able top tell when there will be electricity, for now—Only time will tell

Written by Prince Charles Dickson

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