- Category: ARTICLES
- Tuesday, 28 August 2012
- By Kalu Kalu Diogu, Ph.D
It is with a sense of pride that I refer you to the excellent job one of us, Prof. Bart Nnaji, is doing in Nigeria as the Hon Minister of Power. The response from the survey conducted by Elombah.com collaborates the Ministry of Power’s claims that power supply has improved significantly throughout the country. This sentiment is echoed
across the 36 states of the Federation with even some state governors taking credit for the unimaginable power supply improvement in the country. We are not surprised. Success has many parents.
Nigerians have never had it so good as far as electricity is concerned. The country is currently generating almost 4,500Megawatts. This is a promise kept. As early as last April when there was a dip in power supply as a result of severe water shortages in the dams supplying water to the nation’s hydro stations, coupled with a sharp decline in gas supply to the thermal stations, Prof Nnaji assured the nation that there would be a considerable improvement in electricity by the end of April. As usual, cynics went to town. Today the whole nation knows who was right and who was correct.
It is delightful that all the power generated, except the 170MW serving as spinning reserve, is fed on the national grid. This is good news. In August, 2010, when the nation generated for the first time 3,800MW, the entire transmission infrastructure collapsed within minutes. The transmission network was too fragile to wheel this load in account of poor maintenance. Today the same network is almost effortlessly transporting practically 4,500MW.
Through his personal leadership and understanding of the power sector, world class companies are demonstrating great faith in Nigeria. General Electric, the world’s top electricity equipment manufacturer, is facilitating the building of plants to generate 10,000MW, in addition to taking up between 10 and 15% equity in new power plants. It will also build an assembly plant in Nigeria, the first time it have such a facility in Africa. Siemens of Germany will facilitate the generation of another 10,000MW, take up between 10 and 15% of equity in new plants, build a workshop here and sponsor a study for the integration of traditional and alternative power sources in Nigeria. There are, of course, new MoUs between Nnaji’s Ministry of Power and Electrobras of Brazil and Hyundai of South Korea. In other words, the era of companies like GE and Siemens being satisfied with merely selling turbines to Nigerians is over. Nnaji is making them invest substantially in Nigeria.
Towards the end of last year, the chairman of the United States EXIM Bank visited Nigeria, the first time ever. He went to sign an MoU with Nnaji to provide 1.5billion dollar facility to players in the Nigerian power sector. I understand the US EXIM Bank is willing to increase the amount to $2.5billion. The total credit by this bank to the entire sub Saharan African region in 2011 was $1.4b, with a mere $200m coming to all sectors in Nigeria. But two weeks after Nnaji paid a visit to the US EXIM Bank chairman in Washington, the bank announced unprecedented $1.5b credit to the Nigerian power sector alone. Let us not forget that the moment he was appointed the Special Adviser to the President on Power and Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Power, the World Bank announced, after consultations with him, its preparedness to extend Partial Risk Guarantee (PRG) to the Bulk Electricity Trading Company to provide comfort to power generating companies because none of the nation’s 11 distribution companies is creditworthy. Talk of the difference a man makes in the destiny of a nation.
Prof Nnaji has been a blessing through and through to the Nigerian power sector. In 2000 when no Nigerian dare go into establishing power stations, Nnaji dared to build the 22MW Abuja Emergency power plant. For almost three years the plant supplied power to State House in Abuja, the International Conference Centre, the corporate headquarters of the NNPC and the entire Central Business District, electricity supply did not blink for a second. Encouraged by the Abuja experience, Nnaji decided to establish a 140MW integrated power project in Aba, Abia State, at the cost of $400m. He chose Aba as the location because Enyimba City is the home of local technology in Nigeria. I am happy to announce that the Aba integrated power company will start commercial operations this year. Aba will thus become the first city in West Africa to be for several years without electricity outages.
When he was appointed Minister of Power, I argued that Prof. Bart Nnaji is the most qualified Nigerian for this post. He came to the position prepared to tackle the electricity problem that has held back industrial development in the country. His mission is not just to enhance power supply but also reform the sector so that it would never go back to the darkness, irrespective who the Minister or the president is. I knew he had the thick skin to stand up to not only the generator merchants but also the powerful and corrupt Electricity Workers Union leadership who make their living keeping the country in complete darkness with a straight face.
Upon assuming office, he immediately identified poor transmission network management as a critical factor for the poor electricity supply in the country and moved quickly to address it. This involved changes in the top management staff of PHCN as well as employing the services of expert consultants to manage the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) to achieve international best practices in power transmission management. It was a competitive bid which saw international companies from Israel and elsewhere slug it a healthy manner with Manitoba Hydro International of Canada which eventually won the management contract.
Nnaji has succeeded in getting presidential approval for the building of 765kv Super Grid transmission network, thus more than doubling the capacity of the existing 132 and 332kv lines currently available.
Under his leadership, power generation has risen from around 2,800MW in 2010 to 4,308MW. Work is ongoing to complete 10 abandoned National Integrated Power Plants (NIPP) projects from previous administration in Ihovbor in Edo State, Omotosho in Ondo State, Olorunsogo in Ogun State, Sapele in Delta State, Geregu in Kogi State, Egbema in Imo State, Gbarain in Bayelsa, Omoku in Rivers State, Calabar in Cross River State and Alaoji in Abia State. These projects, which on completion, will add additional 4960mw to the national grid, bringing the total power generation capacity to 9000MW. There are several transmission substation projects going, plus 4,000kilometres of lines being built.
Ndi Igbo, is it not ironic that despite these unimaginable achievement of our very own brother Prof Bart Nnaji, the so called Electricity Workers Union led by our bother, Joe Ajero, has continued to engage in sabotage, blackmail and smear campaign to distract him from the good work he is doing for the country? When will we stop from being our own worst enemy? Nnaji is the first Igboman to be appointed the Minister of Power in Nigeria. He recognises the immense historical burden he is shouldering. Far from disappointing us, he has become the poster boy of what Nigerians can do to change the fortune of our only nation. We are proud of him.
Kalu Kalu Diogu, Ph.D. (Electrical Engineering)